October 10, 2017
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and more: How the stars might not actually align at the 2018 World Cup - The Independent

If things have finally been coming together for some of the biggest nations ahead of the 2018 World Cup, that is not quite the case for many of the biggest stars.
There is in fact currently the danger that all of Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alexis Sanchez, Luka Modric, Gigi Buffon and James Rodriguez will all miss out, with Gareth Bale already certain to. That means Russia 2018 could well be without the two best players in the world and those whose duopoly has dominated an era like no other, arguably two of the next best 10 players, the world’s former most expensive player and the last World Cup’s golden boy and top scorer. In all, 14 of last year’s 30 Ballon D’Or long-list nominees could be absent, and 10 of this years.
Many marketing companies and major sporting sponsors will be sweating. Far more importantly, and far more intensely, so too will the fans and the players themselves, as well as the entire teams around them.
At the least, so much will come to a head tonight, in what could well be the most chaotically entertaining night of World Cup qualification since 17 November 1993.
That was the evening when David Ginola infamously cost France a place at the expense of Hristo Stoichkov’s Bulgaria, when European champions Denmark were undone by 10-man Spain and a miracle performance from Santiago Canizares, when circumstances somehow allowed Ireland to come through a crucial qualifier in Belfast at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland, when Roy Hodgson’s Switzerland qualified at the expense of Portugal’s golden generation, when Davide Gualtieri scored for San Marino after eight seconds against Graham Taylor’s ill-fated England, when Paul Bodin missed a penalty for Wales that saved a magic Romania…

This could be a much more momentous night, and it will be difficult not to think it is the most momentous qualifying night ever if Messi and Argentina miss out.
It is not very often that the world’s best player has not got to perform on the world’s greatest stage, and it is rarely like this. You really have to go back to Johan Cruyff in 1978, and that was because he refused to play.
For Messi, by contrast, it is as if the ball has just refused to go in for his team. The painfully frustrating 0-0 draw against Peru summed so many of their problems up, and reflected why no player other than Messi has scored for Argentina in a year and why they have hit 73 shots in a row without any reward. It is as if an anxiety and psychological block has taken hold of the side, the depressing from three successive major tournament final defeats giving away to something deeper.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and more: How the stars might not actually align at the 2018 World Cup - The Independent

They simply must break it away to Ecuador tonight, they must win to get back into the south American top five from sixth in the mini-league table. With Brazil having already qualified and Uruguay assured of at least the fifth-placed play-off spot against New Zealand it is thereafter so tight, and takes in so many other stars. Sanchez’s Chile are third on 26 points and play away to Brazil, whose competitive manager Tite wants to end this with a bang.
James’ Colombia are also on 26 but should really be qualified having been ahead at home to Paraguay in their last match only to end up losing 2-1. The Colombians now face an effective play-off against Peru, who currently lie in the play-off place on 25 points, having frustrated Argentina in the last match. That face-off and the fact it must produce a result could yet mean that a draw away to Ecuador is enough for Argentina since it would take them to 26 points… except that resurgent Paraguay are expected to beat bottom-placed Venezuela and go to 27 points.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and more: How the stars might not actually align at the 2018 World Cup - The Independent

Argentina then need to produce. They need to actually help Messi. That will be the greater frustration of all of this. He was actually supreme in the match against Peru, setting up four sitters and one other fine chance - but his teammates just couldn’t take them. They arguably don’t deserve a place at the World Cup, but Messi does.
While Argentina are suffering from their own series of idiosyncratic problems that could deny Messi - not to mention Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain - that is not quite the case with Sanchez, Arturo Vidal or James. They are merely enduring the idiosyncrasies of the most difficult qualifying region of all. There are bound to be big dropped points.
It is also the one issue that takes some of the edge off the European games, since the continent’s stars probably won’t be dropping out altogether, but only into the play-offs. That is where Modric’s Croatia and Buffon’s Italy already find themselves. Ronaldo’s Portugal - who understandably started the campaign in slightly lethargic fashion after winning Euro 2016 - now might find new life at the death, as victory at home to leaders Switzerland would award them automatic qualification.
Anything less would bring two more nights of drama, to go with those Buffon and Modric will have to go through. Whether Messi and Argentina will even get to that, though, depends on tonight.
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Disick ‘going crazy’ over Kourtney Kardashian, Travis Barker engagement | Page Six Celebrity News
October 18, 2021
JWOqwRAFNhI
Vicki Gunvalson accuses ex Steve Lodge of cheating, lying and using her | Page Six Celebrity News
October 15, 2021
3RB_p9_FZ-Y
Katey Sagal hit by car while crossing the street, taken to hospital | Page Six Celebrity News
October 15, 2021
5kT2IIVMy0o
Mick Jagger Jabs Back at Paul McCartney Over 'Blues Cover Band' Remark | TMZ TV
October 18, 2021
PJILcZTVgv4
Kourtney's Finally Gettin' Hitched | The TMZ Podcast
October 18, 2021
oImJ5RKQ4iY
Tom Brady Says He Can 'Literally' Play QB 'Til He's 55 | TMZ TV
October 18, 2021
9kwGtku6sUg
Kravis Engaged, Paris' Bridal Shower & Will's New Body
October 18, 2021
c8SvYPQVhJ0
Potomac Apology, "90 Day" In-Laws & Thirst Trappin'
October 18, 2021
EHkh4jIYdJc
"Vanderpump Rules" Star Lala Kent & Randall Emmett SPLIT | E! News
October 18, 2021
SgNiNgUv9Dw
Jodie Comer talks ‘The Last Duel’ and the Importance of Women’s Stories
October 15, 2021
vV29lFZYjsQ
Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener discuss collaborating on ‘The Last Duel’
October 15, 2021
Uo041fzryl0
The 'Halloween Kills' Cast Picks Their Favorite Kills From The Film
October 14, 2021
HnRmpqc6lm0
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.